Breaking the bullying in burns

Sandra Spalding

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead

In a study commissioned by the Australian Federal Government and undertaken by Cross et al (2009) bullying in Australia affects one in four students in Years 4 to 9. In another study undertaken by the Kanderstag Declaration Against Bullying in Children (2007) it was estimated that around 200 million children around the world are being bullied by their peers.

Other studies report that children who are bullied are three times more likely to suffer depressive symptoms (The Centre for Adolescent Health) and that children who are bullied are nine times more likely to have suicidal thoughts (Fiona Baker Mental Health Institute).

These are sobering statistics especially in light of the incidence of bullying as reported by our burn survivors aged between 0-18 years whilst participating in groups facilitated by social workers at our annual burn survivor camps. It is clear that the experience of being bullied complicates adjustment in both the short and long term for our patients.

This paper will briefly review the main issues to be considered when working with the ‘bullied’ burn survivor and outline those therapeutic techniques which have been found to be most useful in supporting both child and family.

Key Words

Burn, bullying, support

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